Tips (or drugs) for occasional sleeplessness

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  • Tips (or drugs) for occasional sleeplessness
  • I used to suffer from regular insomnia, which has been under control for some time now. However I still really suffer with a complete lack of sleep any time I’ve got to get up for a particular “thing” the next morning- Most common occurrences are early morning travel and big rides or races where I have an early morning start, it frustrates me so much that I’m put off entering as many races as I’d like because I can’t be bothered training for something that is then ruined by having to do it on an hour’s sleep.

    I’m generally not a stresser or a worrier and I’ve managed to improve the situation through breathing and other relaxation techniques so I do now find I spend the night in a very relaxed state rather than stressing about not falling asleep like I used to, however something still stops me finally drifting off. I’ve tried some over the counter herbal remedies which do similar- great to relax me, but don’t actually send me to sleep.

    Any tips? I can’t decide whether just to suck it up as it’s such an infrequent thing, or whether getting some stronger pills than over the counter herbal things might be ok, since they would only be used very occasionally.

    Premier Icon theotherjonv

    I know exactly what you mean – I set an alarm but never need it because I wake up sixtytwelve times to check the clock and make sure it hasn’t failed to go off!!

    Diphenhydramine works for me (it’s actually an anti-histamine which causes drowsiness) and is branded and sold as Nytol or eg: Boots equivalents.

    But it tends to leave me drowsy in the morning too; so while not an issue if I’m getting a taxi to the airport to then be able to veg on a plane until it wears off, not suitable if the 5am start is for a drive and then a race. I didn’t use it before the RideLondon, for example!!

    Premier Icon leffeboy

    This works for me and a couple of my friends:

    What I find is that it won’t stop me waking up again later, that’s clearly something different, but it does seem to get me back to sleep more reliably and deeper.  YMMV as they say, some of my friends swear by it and some say it works but the difference isn’t huge.   I really like it, otherwise I use breathing techniques as  you already do

    edit:now with added YouTube


    MrsIHN has occasional trouble sleeping, and diphenhydramine works for her, either Nytol or generic equivalent. Weirdly though, not the Boots one, that never works.

    Does make her feel groggy in the morning though.

    Also, I find that if I’m thirsty I tend to lie awake, so make sure I have a pint of water before I go to bed.


    I found gabapentin (neurontin) akes me feel relaxed, so even if I dont sleep I dont worry about it, but usually thats all it takes to drift off. Plus its natural and not addictive

    Premier Icon zippykona

    i sleep like a log but if I have night nurse when I have a cold I sleep like a whole tree.

    Lovely stuff.


    I hate the Nytol type things, I’m groggy for the whole morning after one.

    What works for me is listening to podcasts or Radio 4 / World Service. If I don’t fall asleep I find I’ve learned something but normally I will drift into sleep quite quickly. I may wake multiple times in the night but I’ll keep going back to sleep.


    I use Nytol fairly regular but mine is back pain. The drugs I was on for the pain/depression stopped me sleeing, so it was another drug to help.

    If I know I have to be up early i am the same. I tend to go to bed early and rest, even if no sleep. Although this is most days now. Not slept properly since breaking my spine.


    Not drugs, but I have found listening to audio books as I go to sleep knocks me out and seems to prevent much of the mind racing / startling awake in the middle of the night I used to get.

    Just get an audio book player with a motion sensor, so it stops playing after 10 minutes of inactivity, otherwise you’ll spend your life trying to find your place in the book!

    Alric  that gabapentin is addictive possisbly worse than an opoid


    CBD oil…. not only will it help with getting a good nights sleep but helps with many other things too.

    i haven’t touched ibuprofen once since starting daily cbd and with cycling, ultra running and climbing, my body is always beat up.

    for me a benefit has also been much deeper more effective sleep

    have a read about it if your not familiar. Can’t recommend highly enough

    Premier Icon weeksy

    Interesting thread… Although i’m not going to try any of them, i very much live in the world of poor sleep… Although it depends on what you class as ‘poor’

    I’m generally asleep by 11pm and awake at something with a 5 in it…. usually early 5’s… But doesn’t affect me as far as i can tell.

    Premier Icon Greybeard

    I sometimes find I need to distract my brain from thinking about the next day. Audio books as above might do that, but I try to recite a poem or story to myself – it requires a bit of thought to remember what comes next, which takes over my brain and blanks out the thoughts (conscious and subconscious) which were keeping me awake.

    Premier Icon cynic-al

    I have found meditation helpful, the free headspace stuff. 10mins and I’m off generally.


    I thought the studies showed that no slerp the nightbefore wassn’t particularly detrimental its the nightbefore that which really screws you over.

    Not sure where/who told me that but it certainly seems the case for me. I have a good 10 spike of total focus and energy from a terrible sleep prior to having an important wake up reason. It goes to shit after that though.

    Audio books are goid though. Motion detection is a great idea.


    For me, difficulty sleeping is totally psychological. Often when stressed and many things spinning around in my head. Then I get worried I won’t sleep, which guarantees I won’t.

    Not drugs, but I have found listening to audio books as I go to sleep knocks me out and seems to prevent much of the mind racing / startling awake in the middle of the night I used to get.

    So, this for me is the best solution, but I listen to podcasts. Something I find interesting works best. Amazing how quick I can then drop off.

    Premier Icon cinnamon_girl

    Daily I take either a herbal liquid containing valerian root etc or a patch containing 5-HTP and melatonin. No side effects from either but if I have chronic pain then they won’t work unless that’s been addressed.


    Valerian tea I find knocks me out too much and I feel groggy in the morning! Pukka’s Relax (mix of other stuff) tea is a milder alternative.

    I have never been a great sleeper but don’t think developing a dependence on drugs is the way to deal with it. I try to avoid caffeine after midday and ideally not too much in the morning either. Also if you haven’t already then install twilight or similar on every screen you own to cut down on blue light in the evening: this definitely helps in my case.

    Learning to meditate these days which seems to help. Or maybe it’s just the general sleep debt from having an 18 month old about 🙂

    Premier Icon StuF

    I find listening to something that I enjoy but am not too bothered about, usually something on BBC iplayer e.g. comedy shows (News Quiz/ Museum of Curiosities/Dads Army/Yes Minister) work better than dramas – I pay too much attention to the dramas.

    It’s just enough to stop my mind wondering / worrying about the latest


    I use Actifed, the decongestant,  to sleep when subjected to long haul in cattle class.

    Works for me.


    I would strongly avoid drugs to help you sleep or wake up. Psychological strategies are far safer and more effective in the long term. Take a look at website sites that do CBT-I. (I for insomnia). This is used by sleep specialists. May try myself!

    In particular gabapentin is NOT safe and is addictive if used inappropriately. Soon it will be a controlled drug (that is, illegal to have without prescription). Don’t usually comment on these medical threads but felt I needed to point this out.

    Evh22, it is a terrible drug and its given out without warning

    Premier Icon bigjim

    I’m the same and it sucks, also struggle if there’s a thing I have to be up for that isn’t routine, eg bike race or flight, or if I’ve arrived somewhere late and have to do straight to bed, or camping, in a hotel, etc.

    CBD oil definitely helps, I have the good stuff from loveCBD, annoyingly it’s not legal here in Denmark even though I could openly go and buy weed or hash from a part of town where the police essentially allow it. I have really bad back pain lying down and can only lie down for up to about eight hours before the pain means I have to get up so I can’t lie in if it takes me a few hours to drift off, the CBD also helps with that. I have tried the breathing thing and can feel it starting to take effect but as per that video i soon lose concentration, that little thing looks interesting.

    The valerian based things do help as does that antihistamine but I do feel it a bit the next day. Weed makes me sleep like a rock but it’s not the same quality of sleep and I’m too old to be spaced the next day.

    I’m always in awe of people that just fall asleep! My worst case was an ard rock weekend when I slept about one hour each night despite the massive physical effort of riding all day. I was in a right state by the sunday night.


    good to get feedback on gabapentin

    CBT worked for me, but if you stray off the path, you haveto go through it all again,and that can be a real pain, especially if you have to drive every evening, or your a brain surgeon, etc

    Same boat here

    Occasional half a Z drug helps…you don’t feel groggy like nytol etc as well..

    non habit forming and doesn’t affect my long term sleep

    quite often drop a tactical half

    Premier Icon Northwind

    Gabapentin’s ****ing brilliant, I got prescribed it for my trapped nerve and it basically gave me my body back. But you don’t want to use it for anything else than what you have to, because it’s also pretty terrible.

    I don’t think it’s necessarily that suited for occasional sleeplessness but I take bio-melatonin just basically to normalise my sleep a litte, it’s not a sleepy pill and I don’t find any ill effects, it’s also pretty weak but it seems to be “just enough” to tip me over.

    But honestly sleeping issues often aren’t really sleeping issues at all and if it’s happening around events/occasions then I would definitely be wondering about stress/anxiety stuff.

    Premier Icon rone

    Magnesium spray. Helps muscles too.

    Worked very well for sleep too.

    If you like tea, try this. It makes me feel very relaxed and good to go to Land of Nod.


    Z drugs are habit-forming unfortunately.

    if I wake up in the early hours and can’t get back to sleep, I get up and have a cup of decaf tea and read for a bit. It seems to reset my brain. Occasionally I have a shower, as that seems to help relax me.


    I’m a pretty good sleeper, initially getting to sleep quite quickly. Sometimes if I wake in the middle of the night its harder to get back to sleep. My own little trick is to visualise following a route I know well. Could be a walk, a drive or whatever, simply picturing in my mind the various turns and features. Doesn’t always work, but often does. I find Swinley Blue a good one to mentally follow, rarely make it beyond about blue 4 or 5!

    I find eating oily fish like Kipper or a good quality vanilla ice cream makes me sleepy.

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